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Government Shutdown's Impact on People with MS

January 20, 2018

The federal government and its programs were operating under a continuing resolution that extended existing funding levels—but the resolution expired at midnight Eastern, January 19, 2018. Congress has not passed any of the 12 individual spending bills for FY 2018. Congressional leaders are negotiating an extension of the resolution that would fund the government at current levels through either January 23 or February 16—to give them more time to reach a bipartisan budget deal. Since the continuing resolution was not extended past January 19 and a new budget agreement was not reached, the federal government has shut down.

Government shutdown means all non-essential federal government operations are shut down until Congress passes a stopgap funding bill and/or comes to consensus on final funding levels for FY 2018. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society continues to urge Congress to take a balanced approach to resolving budgetary issues in order to get the government working again and ensure that Americans living with multiple sclerosis are not negatively impacted.

While Social Security checks and disability benefits will continue to be issued, processing of benefits may be slowed because of Social Security employees being furloughed. Another agency of utmost importance to the MS community is the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The NIH Clinical Center will continue care for current patients, but will not admit new patients unless deemed medically necessary. Funding supporting FY 2018 research grants will not be paid, slowing the momentum of vital medical research.

This document provides guidance based on the best available information about how a shutdown may impact people with MS. The National MS Society is not a government agency and does not rely on government funding. Therefore, there will be no direct impact to the Society. If you have specific questions, please contact the Society’s MS Navigators at 1-800-344-4867 (regular business hours) or online.

About Multiple Sclerosis

Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are leading to better understanding and moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.

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